Health practitioners have been challenged with having to adapt to COVID-19 at break-neck speed. Effectively implementing new modes of delivery is one key area of focus.
Telehealth is a new way of working for GPs, medical professionals and allied health practitioners, allowing them to offer remote, quality care to their patients. While most of us feel reasonably comfortable talking on the phone, video consultations can be trickier.
Get set up for Telehealth.
- Familiarise yourself with your organisation’s telehealth policies and procedures. You may possibly need to work with the business to draft these. Seek help from your professional association. The Department of Health and RACGP have some good information to help get you started.
- Decide whether you will offer phone consultations, video consultations or a combination of the two.
- If you plan to offer video consultations, decide what software you will use. Install software on your device(s) and follow the account set-up procedures. Get help from IT support if required. Zoom, Skype and specialist applications like Coviu can be integrated directly into your website. It’s important to research what features will meet your needs and privacy should be a consideration.
- Make sure you give any new technology a good ‘trial run’. Practice using with colleagues or friends to make sure it’s all working seamlessly.
Educate your staff and patients.
- Make sure all staff are aware of new telehealth procedures. Provide additional training or IT support if required.
- Communicate changes to patients via email, on your website and through social media. As health promotion specialists, Juntos Marketing can assist with all communications needs. Most importantly confirm the process for a phone or video consult when confirming a new appointment. Make sure you have an up-to-date phone number for your patients.
- Don’t forget that telehealth is a new experience for your patients too. To help them feel more comfortable with the process, you may wish to share our free video consultation guide for patients.
- Confirm and record patient consent to take part in a phone or video consult.
- Avoid recording consultations for privacy reasons.
- Store and transmit personal information via secure means only and comply with privacy requirements.
- Be aware of the latest MBS telehealth item numbers, including the temporary COVID-19 MBS item numbers.
- Explain ‘next steps’ to your patient.
Tips for video consultations.
- Take some time before the consultation to check that the technology is working correctly (e.e.g make sure your device is fully charged, test that your internet, webcam and audio are working). It may be useful to know how and where to access technical support if required.
- Before the consultation, close email and unnecessary programs to prevent distractions.
- Discuss with your patient a plan to continue by phone in case the technology fails.
- Add a human touch to your consultations by ensuring that you look directly at the webcam to simulate eye contact.
- Ensure your face is well lit, with your device positioned at head height.
Help your patients.
Don’t forget that telehealth is a new experience for your patients too. It is quite normal for people to be apprehensive about new experiences and technology can be torturous for some people. To help them feel more comfortable and to get the most of out the video consultation, you may wish to share our free video consultation guide for patients.
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